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30 January 2019.

SDG FUND SUPPORTS EXPANSION OF BLUEBERRY PRODUCTION

The Danish SDG Investment Fund, IFC and FMO has decided to invest in Africa’s leading blueberry producer Mbiza enabling the company to expand its production sites by additional 180 hectare and upgrade packing house infrastructure. The expansion will create 200 – 250 new permanent jobs.

IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, Dutch Development Finance Institution, FMO, and the Danish SDG Investment Fund managed by IFU have decided to invest in Mbiza Trading Ltd. to support a 180-hectare blueberry farm expansion and infrastructure upgrades. Mbiza is a family-owned trading and holding company that produces and markets blueberries under its proprietary “OZblu” brand.

Wants to capture market share

The financing from the three development finance institutions will enable the company to increase its planting and packing capacities to capture market share in the fast-growing international market for blueberries. The investors will provide a long-term financing package to support the company’s expansion program. The instrument was specifically designed to assume early-stage risk not offered by commercial banks.

Blueberries are an increasingly popular berry among consumers, who have been increasing consumption of them over the past few decades, as new varieties have made them easier to buy and store. In 2017, South Africa exported USD 50 million worth of fresh berries with blueberries being a sizable portion, of which Mbiza accounted for 30 percent.

– The support from three leading development finance institutions will help us increase availability of new varieties to meet the demand of markets as well as improve technology used by our farms, thus increasing their efficiency and incomes, said Roger Horak, Founder and Group CEO of Mbiza.

Business with a solid local impact

Mbiza currently manages 300 hectares of own and joint venture agricultural land and also sources from out-grower farms covering additional 400 hectares. The more than 35 sites are in South Africa and Zambia. Including the expansion, Mibiza will employ close to 600 people and support up to 12,000 seasonal jobs on Mbiza’s managed farms and on the out-grower farms supplying to Mbiza.

Most of the Mbiza staff are young, female unskilled workers, who receive on-the-job training. Moreover, the founder of the company, Roger Horak, has established OzBlu academy, which will provide medium and long-term education in genetics research for around 50 graduates and five PhDs.

– The financing for Mbiza is a good example of how we can assist private companies in growing their business, increasing local jobs, food production as well as rural development, which is in line with our aim to support the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals, said Johnny Ohgrøn Hansen, Regional Director for Southern Africa at IFU.

The total investment is DKK 224 million, of which the Danish SDG Investment Fund has provided one third.